With low interest rates, rising inflation and Brexit biting at our bank balances, 2017 is an important year to make a resolution to be extra vigilant with your pennies.
New year inevitably brings a raft of articles telling us how best to look after our cash. But this year, more than any other, it's essential to take action as we feel the financial upheaval of 2016's vote to leave the European Union.
There's no escaping that the luxury of low inflation is now over; prices have started to rise and the pound in your pocket will start to buy less. Your household budget will be stretched as the cost of fuel, energy, your supermarket shop and anything made overseas creeps up. You need to search out the best deals and make your money work for you.
- Start by protecting yourself against inflation by checking you're on a fixed-rate gas and electricity tariff (one that guarantees the price you pay per unit) and if not, switch. Yours Switching Energy or 0800 008 7777 does the hard work for you and you could save up to £616.
- Then make sure your savings are earning an interest rate that’s higher than inflation – currently 0.6 per cent. Consider high interest-paying current accounts and grab a best buy deal now, as more cuts may well be on the way.
- Minimise the tax your pay on your savings with an ISA. In the current 2015-16 tax year, the allowance is £15,240 (£20,000 from April 6, 2017). Savers can deposit the full allowance into cash (ideal for short term or emergency funds) or a stocks and shares ISA (potential for a higher return) –or any mix of both.
- Pay less for food and fuel. If you haven’t already embraced the discounters, head to Aldi, Lidl and websites like ApprovedFood.co.uk for good-value food and drink. Also B&M Stores, Wilko and Home Bargains for everyday essentials. To find your cheapest filling station use comparison website Petrolprices.com.
- Shop for a better broadband, TV and home phone deal using Yours Switching Phone & Broadband or call 0800 083 4311. If you haven't switched in years, chances are you're paying too much. And if you’ve left home and car insurance to auto renew then you’ll be missing out on better deals. Compare car insurance quotes using Mustard (0330 022 7421) and home cover via Comparethemarket.
- If you’ve got a mortgage, cut repayments by switching to a fixed-rate deal if you’re on your lender’s SVR. Find the best deals using John Charcol. If you need to raise income and own your home, consider equity release. To find out more about releasing cash from your home, speak to Yours Retirement by calling FREE on 0808 156 9010.
- Finally, budgeting will help you keep on top of your finances. Work out the months you’re going to need extra budget allocated and the months you can put more aside. This will help you plan in advance and if you know you’ve got a special occasion or holiday coming up you’ll know to be extra frugal in the months previous.
7 tips to make every penny count
- Check your reward accounts – are they still offering the perks they promised?
- Shop around for best savings rates – there are still some gems.
- Cancel contracts you don’t use – it’s easy to overlook small subscriptions.
- Switch suppliers – if you’ve been stuck with the same providers for years, save £100s by moving on.
- Haggle yourself a great deal with your existing provider.
- Stop paying interest on your credit cards - find a 0 per cent balance transfer.
- Move your mortgage to a fixed-rate deal or consider equity release to boost retirement income.
- Use our top tips for retirement in Brexit Britain and 5 ways Brexit could affect your money
- For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine